Casualties mount as LTTE maintain control of key town
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 11 June 1997, 23:59 GMT]
As the battle for control of a key town in the northern Vanni mainland continued, the casualties are rising. Reports from Thandikulam say Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was still in control of some parts of Nochimoddai and the Sri Lankan military was massing troops for a counter offensive.
The LTTE press release issued to the media yesterday said that they had
lost 50 of their troops in the ferocious counter offensive launched on the
government held town. The Sri Lankan government however said that the LTTE
suffered more casualties but reports coming from Vavuniya, 260 kms north of
Colombo suggest that the LTTE offensive was successful in blunting the Sri
Lankan military offensive.
Other sources said that LTTE also has captured two long range artillery pieces
newly brought to the Thandikulam base but this was rejected by Sri Lankan
military officials who said that three such guns were destroyed by
the government forces to prevent them from falling into the LTTE's hands.
However, the Sri Lankan government made similar claims during
the Mullaitivu military debacle, where more than 1400 Sri Lankan soldiers
were killed, only to discover that the LTTE had captured them.
Earlier, the LTTE said that it had destroyed two ammunition storage depots and
five tanks. This was also confirmed by the Sri Lankan military
sources. The total damage to the military complex was not known as the Sri
Lankan government has imposed a tight censorship on all news items coming
from the war zone and also prevents any independent journalists from
visiting the area.
Tuesday's fighting was the bloodiest counter offensive by the LTTE, since the recent government offensive began. The Sri
Lankan government launched operation 'Jaya Sikuru' ("Sure Victory") into the LTTE held
territory to open the 60 kms long Main Supply Route (MSR) to Jaffna peninsula.
The Tigers intensified their campaign for a Tamil Homeland and for the
right of Self-determination in the Island's north and east after 1983
riots. The war has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Tamil civilians in the past
14 years and has made more than 750,000 Tamils homeless.